Michael Freedman has been promoted to the position of vice president of undergraduate enrollment management and marketing at Niagara University.
Freedman originally joined the university in 2010 as assistant director of public relations and manager of online content and has held a number of different titles since then. In 2019, he was named associate vice president for marketing and first-year enrollment in the Office of Admissions, where he has played a key role in the management of the admissions team and building the university’s prospect management system.
Under his leadership, Niagara University has welcomed more than 620 well-qualified first-year students each year over the past three years. This is a significant accomplishment for an independent institution in the age of New York state’s Excelsior Scholarship program, and one that is facing the additional challenges of a dramatically shrinking college-aged population and operating in a geographic location with 20 other institutes of higher education. The COVID-19 pandemic created additional obstacles, but Freedman and his team were able to act swiftly to shift their student engagement activities to a virtual environment. That environment proved to be successful, and the number of undergraduate admissions events more than doubled from the year before.
Freedman noted that the Rev. James Maher, C.M.’s commitment to ensuring that a Niagara University education be affordable and accessible has inspired the office’s forward-thinking approach to recruitment. Initiatives such as the establishment of scholarships for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students, as well as students from Niagara and Erie counties and regional Catholic high schools, have assisted them in pursuing their career goals at Niagara, and focused recruitment efforts in Southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area are advancing the university’s standing as a binational institution. In addition, Father Maher’s emphasis on diversifying the makeup of Niagara’s student body has resulted a 3.2% increase in the racial diversity of the 2020 freshman class—from 121 students in 2019 to 141 students in 2020 (22.6% of the incoming class).
Freedman’s background in public relations gives him a different perspective than someone who has come up through admissions, and his thorough knowledge of communications and marketing, combined with the talent and skills of the people on the recruitment and financial aid packaging team makes for “an exciting, winning formula,” he said, adding that everything at a university, even PR, should be viewed as connected to enrollment.
Now in one of the top positions at Niagara, he has taken what he has learned and experienced over the past decade to create a threefold vision for the department: be bold; be data-driven; and be collaborative. He acknowledges that data, especially in relation to the goals and key performance indicators for focus areas, is a critical part of any decision he makes. He also has opened communication lines across campus to share information and actively encourages his team to implement new ideas.
Freedman, a resident of Grand Island, has been involved in a board or committee capacity with several local organizations, including the Public Relations Society of America, the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Niagara, the Taste of Buffalo, the Center of Renewal at Stella Niagara, and the Heart, Love, and Soul food pantry.
“Being around the Vincentians every day on campus and feeling that heightened sense of purpose that we talk so much about in our marketing materials really motivates you to step up and make a difference in the lives of the people around you,” he said.
Freedman also is an adjunct professor at Niagara University and co-adviser for the university's Public Relations Student Society. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from SUNY Geneseo and an MBA in strategic marketing from Niagara University.